Cynthia Mothelesi wears her passion for all things Setswana on her sleeve.
“We are a beautiful people with so much to share.” Muses the up and coming businesswoman in the tourism industry.
Although she admits to the vast beauty Botswana has to offer, she notes however that like the rest of Africa, only a portion of the continent is known or celebrated.
“Africa shouldn’t be known for safaris only, Africa is more than just safari, Africa is us the people and to experience Africa one must be exposed to all that makes us,” she states.
“Our language, food, activities, heritage, music and aspirations can be packaged to be experienced by people of all walks of life.” It is against this backdrop and her exposure working for Botswana Tourism Organization that Motheletsi formed Happy Soul Adventures (HSA).
Beaming with pride, she shares; “HSA is a travel adventure company which seeks to connect both the local and international traveller with the communities that are around them. If you join us on a tour, expect a cycling tour in the outskirts of Gaborone and meet some of our local hosts in our favourite watering holes. Our current favourite watering hole is in Mogobane where we have Nkuku Rinah who owns Majuta general dealer.”
Mothelesi explains that the model of her business seeks to collaborate with the locals in the communities she takes her guests to.
“We keep our bikes at Nkuku Rinah’s store. When we visit Mogobane, we get to hang out with her at her store and spend money there. We want to empower communities that we interact with whilst giving our clients a unique experience.”
Mothelesi hopes to expand such collaborations to other hosts in different parts of the country.
“Our business model is very inclusive and we want everyone to feel that they are part of a bigger dream and also their contributions play a huge role in the success of what we have to offer. Some of the services offered include city tours, where one gets to explore the city through the locals’ perspective and all experiences are tailor made to what the client is looking for.”she excitedly explains.
“For instance, some people want to explore monuments, some local exotic foods, some drinking and dancing spots. Whatever the client’s needs we strive to please hence our unique selling point.”
Other activities include Farm life experience. “This is for those that wish to experience a typical Setswana life. We take them to a farm where they get to learn how to milk a cow, make madila, learn how to make bread, how to make ginger beer and immerse themselves in a truly unique Botswana culture.” Another favorite activity among her gusts is camping.
“We are currently working on a camping experience, which will be in the outskirts of the city with an amazing view of the Gaborone Dam. We want to offer clients a weekend getaway experience surrounded by nature and urge all to come and enjoy simple yet soul enriching experiences with us.”
Mothelesi says their target audience is varied. “We cater to guests from outside of the continent, young South African travelers as well as adventure seeking Batswana. We want to unlock unique and breathtaking destinations around Botswana to be enjoyed by both the old and the young.”Mothelesi proudly announces.
In addition to HAS, Mothelesi recently revamped her online store launched in 2014.
“Mmamontle started in 2014 in Maun (where I was based) as an online fashion accessories store. Our target market was the young quirky fashionista who loves being different and experimental with her fashion sense. The stores target market was mainly based in Gaborone.”
With the experience gained from running the online store, Mothelesi decided to restructure and focus on the local entrepreneur.
“I know and understand the hardships that local entrepreneurs go through and instead of competing with them, I wanted to offer a support. This led to the newly launched outfit Mmamontle, which loosely translates to “the beautiful one”
Mmamontle is a local corner store that leases out shelf space to local entrepreneurs.
“Situated at Molapo Crossing inside a shipping container, the store offers convenience to the business owner and their clientele.
Her future plan, Mothelesi says, is to eventually set up the space as a local creative hub where people can hangout and exchange ideas.
“I strongly believe in sound collaborations and I am excited that many share my vision as witnessed by the local brands already stocked.”
Although Mothelesi admits to hardships met while pursuing her business plans, it is the lessons learnt she is proud to share.
“I am driven by my passion for my country and my positive drive and results driven outlook. I’m no longer afraid of rejection and always knocking on doors for opportunities. My persistence so far landed me an interview on CNN, invitation to the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit as well as my recent interview on a South Africa radio station POWERFM 987. This has enhanced my robust and global network in addition to my strong marketing skills We recently sent a consignment to Europe which was produced by the entrepreneurs who are listed with us,” reveals the businesswoman whose two ventures were self funded.
“Sometimes my creativity and hard work shocks me too. I have driven to Makgadikgadi from Gaborone by myself pulling a caravan and it was one of the best experiences ever!” She chuckles. Wittingly sharing pearls of wisdom Mothelesi says “When you put in the work, God always blesses you when you least expect it. Keep your circle very small and spend more time on your own. Stop over sharing your plans before you achieve them and ALWAYS BE HUMBLE.